How to decide whether register a design under Copyrights Act or Designs Act

Intellectual property rights provide exclusive rights to the applicant, which protects their unique idea. Design is also a unique idea that can be protected under various laws such as Copyright Act, Designs Act, etc. Where the Designs Act protects an object's features such as shape, pattern, configuration, etc., on the other hand, Copyright protects artistic works.

The provisions for protecting the designs are not similar under both the Acts. This article provides the provisions related to registration of a design in the Copyright Act, Designs Act.

What is protected by the designs act and the copyright act?

  • The Designs Act, 2000 protects the design, which is provided under Section 2(d) as: 
  • Quality of an article in terms of shape, pattern, ornament, configuration, the composition of lines/colors
  • That article can be two/three dimensional or both
  • The qualities are applied to such article through industrial/ manual/ mechanical process.

It does not include:

  • Any principle of construction 
  • A mechanical device
  • Trademark as per the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958
  • Property mark
  • Artistic work as per the Copyright Act

As per the Copyright Act, the following works shall be protected as per Section 13:

  • Literary 
  • Dramatic 
  • Musical 
  • Artistic works 
  • Cinematograph films 
  • Sound recording

What is the time period for which protection is granted by the designs act and the copyright act?

As per the Designs Act:

As per this Act, the registered design gets copyright in the design for 10 years beginning from registering such design. One can extend the Copyright term period for five years by applying to the Controller and paying prescribed statutory fees before the expiration of ten years (as mentioned earlier).

As per the Copyright Act:

When a design is registered as an Original Artistic work under the Copyright Act, the protection subsists for the lifetime, which extends to sixty years after the death of the creator as per Section 22 of the Act.

Further, where a design can get registered under the Designs Act but is not so registered, the Design stills gets protection under the Copyright Act, 1957. Such protection exists until the 50th reproduction of such an article as Section 15 of the Act.

What factors shall be considered before getting registration of the design under any act?

  • Copyright does not mandatorily require prior registration. But it is advised to get the registration to gain protection against infringement.
  • Copyright shall not exist in a design that has been registered under the Designs Act, 2000. This points that the applicant has to forego his rights under the Copyright Act, where he gets his design registered under the Designs Act.
  • Where a design is not registered under the Designs Act, and the article is reproduced by any industrial process more than 50 times, the Copyright shall also cease to exist for such design.

After considering the necessary details of both the Acts, the applicant shall proceed further with his application.

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